View Full Version : Taking pictures in low light with a compact camera. How?

02-28-2008, 05:48 PM
The compact, point-and-shoot cameras as small as a deck of cards are very convenient for travel, where SLR cameras can be bit bulky to carry around.

My question is how to make compact digital camera to take reasonable pictures in low light environment without flash ( if it is possible at all).
For example. in low lit galleries/ museums/churches flash is not permitted and for night cityscapes, flash just doesn't work beyond certain small distance.

With SLR cameras, in manual mode, taking pics in these low light situations is not a problem but what to do with a compact camera, where there is no manual mode but just preset auto modes, apparently (I was told) not very helpful in low light ?

I was told also, that even if a compact camera has high ISO option, any setting above 400 ISO will produce unpleasant pixelization.

Please, could someone with hands-on experience tell me how to take reasonably good quality pictures in low light with a compact digital camera without flash . No matter what brand or model.

Thanks in advance for any practical tip!

02-28-2008, 06:20 PM
one word... tripod

02-28-2008, 06:28 PM
Yep, tripod is your only option.

02-28-2008, 06:38 PM
Except for those museums and churches where you can't use a tripod or a flash. Then you're SOL. Some of the compact Fuji cameras provide decent high ISO performance but it's not great.

02-28-2008, 08:09 PM
For night cityscapes you need a tripod or you have to put the camera on some still surface; no exception.
In church or musuem you will have to find a camera with cleanest image and preferably with manual controls. I used to recommend Fuji F30/F31fd to people for such situation until Fuji discontinued the model and replace them with craps.
I shot many good low light photos with my F30. My technique is always to use 2 hands for holding the camera: left hand to cup the whole camera (for compacts) and the right hand to support the left hand and secure the right side of the camera. Left elbow to the chest for extra support. If your camera has viewfinder, use it for third support point. I even hold my breath the moment of pressing the shutter. It works well for me.
Here is a sample from F30, ISO1600, shutter 1/15sec and max aperture of F/2.8. No post processing except resize.

02-29-2008, 12:29 AM
check out the $1 image stabilizer thread i posted